What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones (calculi) are formed from substances normally found in the urine. Small crystals may form when calcium or other chemicals become too concentrated in the urine. Over time, these crystals may grow into stones. Small stones can pass out of the body undetected along with urine. But when larger stones fall into and obstruct the ureter (the narrow duct that drains urine from the kidney to the bladder), they can cause sudden, severe pain.
What are symptoms of a kidney stone?
Common symptoms of a kidney stone include:
- Severe side (flank) pain that radiates to the groin
- Side pain that is not affected by activity
- Blood in the urine
- Frequent or persistent urinary tract infections
- Urinary urgency or frequency
Do I need a referral to come to the Kidney Stone Institute?
While many patients are referred by their primary doctor, no referral is necessary. To contact us, call 651-326-3830 or 1-888-326-3830 (toll free).
What tests are used to diagnose kidney stones?
A CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis is the best way for your doctor to determine if you have a kidney stone. A CT scan is a specialized x-ray test that allows your doctor to look inside your body. It is usually done after an initial physical.
On the CT scan, stones are easily recognized. They look similar to bones but are outside of the skeleton. Unfortunately, plain x-rays and ultrasounds tend to miss many stones.
What treatment options do you offer?
We want you to understand all treatment options and their advantages, disadvantages and success rates. We work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan.
When stones require active management, treatments can include:
- Shock wave lithotripsy, or ESWL - High-intensity sound waves are used to break the stone into tiny fragments (about the size of grains of sand). Stone fragments can then pass out the body with the urine.
- Ureteroscopy - Stones are viewed with a small telescope that is guided through the urethra and bladder and up the ureter. Small stones may be removed in one piece. Larger stones are broken using a laser.
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy, or PCNL - After making a small incision in the side, a narrow tunnel is made into the kidney. A special telescope is used to break stones apart and then remove the fragments.
What can be done to prevent future kidney stones?
Because kidney stones can recur, we work with you to create a long-term plan for prevention that is easy to maintain.
Follow these tips to decrease your chances of developing a kidney stone or experiencing a stone recurrence:
- Drink more fluids so that urine is less concentrated.
- Maintain a normal level of calcium in your diet.
- Decrease the salt in your diet.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
If you have atypical stones, multiple stones or frequent stone recurrences, your doctor may suggest a comprehensive risk evaluation. The following tests are generally recommended for an initial evaluation:
- Analysis of the stone(s)
- A simple blood test
- 24 hour urine collection on two occasions
- A food diary when collecting urine
How do I reach the HealthEast Kidney Stone Institute?
Call the kidney stone hotline at 651-326-3830 or toll-free at 1-888-326-3830.